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A Whole Wide World of Potent Alcohol

by Marcella Prokop Jan 13, 2010
Imbibe in these ten forms of potent alcohol from around the world and speak the international language of Drunk.
Touka Gaz

Although international travel and import/export allowances have sent local liquors to every area of the earth, the harder-to-come-by Madagascan moonshine Touka Gaz packs a punch like no legal liquor this side of the equator. Which side of the equator? Doesn’t matter. This drink transcends reality.


According to the food and drink enthusiasts at Saveur, all Mediterranean countries have their own variation of this grape-y liquor.

Called Grappa in Russia, Germany and Italy, this silky liquor has been around since the 1800s and packs a sweet, fiery punch. You might be more familiar with the Greek name–Ouzo.


Another favorite of Europeans and North Americans, this syrupy black licorice-like is served best chilled as a shot, and is often combined with energy drinks such as Red Bull or Rock Star and called a Jag-bomb. Making out with groomsmen in broom-closets and getting into fist fights at weddings is not unheard of after enjoying this German staple.


For a touch of southern heat, countless brands of Tequila never fail to leave the taste-tester feeling toppled after a night of fun. Made in Mexico of the Agave plant, fine tequila is easily swallowed on its own, with a chaser of salt and lime.

Add a splash of pineapple juice, an ounce of reposado and a drop of agave syrup to your drink and let sweetness take you away.


This Brazilian liquor is made of sugarcane, which imparts sweetness to the alcohol not found in less-tropical countries. Like the Madagascan moonshine, cachaca can be made in one’s backyard. It’s most commonly used in caipirinhas.

You can buy it almost globally, but if you’re feeling bold in Brazil, find a sugarcane factory and ask if it’s possible to get some.

Whisky or Whiskey

Depending on where you are, you’ll find many more variations of this drink than there are spellings of the word. The Scots spell theirs without the “e,” but after a night of drinking with the Scottish, you’ll be lucky to make another other noise but “ee.”

Mix 2 oz. of whisky with 1 oz. of Peppermint Schnapps and voila: a Whiskey Stinger. Feel the burn.


Known as sodabe in Togo and burukutu in Ghana, this distilled palm wine comes from West Africa and is easy to overconsume. Alas, as another moonshine-y type drink, your local corner wine shop probably doesn’t carry it.


What can we say about vodka that you don’t already know? Not much.

Instead, we’ll pass on a recipe from the people at Chopin Vodka, voted best vodka in an informal Slate poll. 2 oz. ginger-infused Chopin vodka; the peel of one lime carved into a long slice (horse’s neck). Pour vodka into a Collins glass, add lime peel. Top off with ginger ale.


This Korean hard alcohol is made traditionally from rice, but can also be distilled from wheat or potatoes. The Chinese Shaojiu is a similarly distilled drink, literally known as “burned liquor.” Drank as a communal venture, Soju is enjoyed with as much pomp and etiquette as one expects in Asian countries. For directions, click HERE.


Like Paris Hilton, Absinthe is famous for being famous. Illegal in the US for almost a century after a Swiss man allegedly murdered his family while Absinthe-drunk, this “ideal-changing liquid alchemy” (Thank you Hemingway) is a green herbal liquor that smells like hallucinations gone wrong and tastes like anise.

Community Connection

Believe it or not, there are many ways to get high without being thrown in jail. We also want to point out that there are many good ways to stay sober while traveling.

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